- Summer of Salt by Katrina Leno
Trade ed. ISBN 978-0-06-249362-0 $17.99
E-book ed. ISBN 978-0-06-249364-4 $8.99
Reviewed from galleys Ad Gr. 7-10
This summer is especially important for Georgina Fernweh: she’ll be turning eighteen, and she’ll finally manifest the magic possessed by the women in her family. Meanwhile, she and her twin sister, Mary, help their mother run their inn in their small island town, a major attraction for bird enthusiasts due to a bird of a rare species that returns to roost every summer. When the bird is brutally killed, suspicion immediately falls on the “witchy” Fernweh girls, and Georgina wonders if her sister was involved with the crime. The island has a cozy, comfortable quirkiness, with the Fernweh magic mostly an open secret and the birders making a warmly eccentric secondary cast; it’s jarring, then, when the tone moves abruptly to menacing [End Page 436] as the town turns on the girls, and the revelation of Mary’s sexual assault at the hands of a neighbor plays more like contrived drama than true tragedy. Still, the elements of magical realism are beautifully employed here, with the Fernweh family history and the story of the endangered bird particularly poignant. Several threads of romance and friendship get lost in the book’s turn toward melodrama, but fans of Ernshaw’s The Wicked Deep (BCCB 3/18) may appreciate another tale of sisterly bonds tested by magic, love, and vengeance.